Binding Review: 08-09 Union Contact

03 Sep, 2008

Location: Timberline, Oregon

Snow Conditions: Slushy, bumpy snow softer in spots with some hardpacked icy areas. Overcast skies to fog.

Setup: I rode the Union Contact bindings on the Black Death Inc with my Vans Omni Focus boots.

Time to set up the binding: Quicker than average

Fit: I really had the time to get these dialed to my boots, making sure the fit was there and adjusted to me. Even with a men’s binding, I always worry the highback might be too much for my calf’s and boot fit…but the contacts were not an issue on sizing to a women’s boot in the M/L size. I also didn’t have any width problems, no gaps in the fit between the boot and bindings on the width factor.

First Impression: It’s the brite light of bindings…so far so good. Yes it is extremely lightweight.

Appearance: I got to try the bright orange contacts and at first I’m like dang…this is really bright. I actually grew to love the bright orange. To me the design of the contacts is sleek, there’s no special gimmicks or extra stuff to weigh you down…it’s a binding and the design is there with a nice color to go along with it.

Comfort: Both of the straps, ankle and toe strap were comfortable to my boot. I didn’t have any issues with pressure points or weird spots. The binding overall molded well, the highback shape fit very well, comfortable and a good height to my boot.

Functionality: Easy to set up, easy to adjust the straps, the highback. It took me a second longer to get my degrees dialed only because I wasn’t used to Union’s and having to do them myself (typically at demo’s, you tell them degrees and they set it up). Easy to adjust the heelcup forward and really make this binding fit your boot the best it can. The ratchets were easy to undo and ratchet up, never had any issues with either one during riding.

Flex: I like softer bindings a lot, the biggest reason is giving you some give and take when riding…the contacts really were fun to mess around with, offering a softer flex for messing around with on butters and presses but then offering support laterally when I stepped into the halfpipe. It felt the most secure when doing tricks where it was light and easy to manuever, and fun. The ankle strap I rode is a tad stiffer than the one coming out, but even with it was comfortable and easy to flex from toeside to heelside. Over the bumpy slush, these bindings really excelled…adapted to the varying snow conditions with no issues. The highback is noticeably softer than my rome madisions that I’m used to. Now that I’ve been riding the bindings more in Colorado on groomers and hardpacked charging conditions, they are very soft and they are still the softest binding I’ve been on.

Response: The contact has 19% of the base plate touching the board and that was interesting to really get a good example of feeling the board when riding. I felt it more when I was in the halfpipe and landing when I didn’t have any vibrations. I didn’t really notice it during the freeriding except during some slushy areas where the bindings and board absorbed the terrain. In terms of response, the softer flex of the binding let the rider control the response…obviously not a huge responsive binding where one toe pressure would cause a toeside carve, it was really forgiving and let you control how much to turn.

Toe Strap: I rocked the toe strap as a cap strap for the time riding, it fit snugly over my boot and although I had doubts that it would stick when riding, it was still secure at the bottom of each run.

Overall Impression: I honestly would like to thank the couple people that requested me to try them, because then I went out of my way to actually ride them for you. I was surprised that there had been no online reviews yet of these bindings.

Overall it was a smooth ride down the mountain, the softer flex is my style allowing me to absorb the conditions but also taking it into the pipe where the lightweight and natural flex was fun to ride with. It was comfortable and a good fit to my boot for a men’s binding. I think Union really did a solid job with these.

After spending more time on them and letting friends borrow them as well, they are a soft binding but lightweight. For a women rocking these, my boot fits just fine in them and I’ve recommended them to the women or men wanting the most buttery soft binding you can play with.

On-Snow Photos

Union Contact Description


About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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  1. Damian
    September 03, 2008

    Nice review. I agree. I didn’t have the best opinion of union before riding these bindings (due to some faulty toe straps on a different model), but I was immediately turned around. I really liked them and have a pair on order for the coming season too.

  2. Shayboarder
    September 03, 2008

    Yeah I’m hit or miss with Union, some models I love like the contacts and trilogy and then other models i’m like eh they are okay like the milans and data’s.

    But yeah stoked on these for sure.

  3. waffles.
    September 03, 2008

    it still cracks me up when i see you riding that board. not only because it was chris’s. but its got a unity day sticker on it. anyways.

    i have been a huge union fan sense year one, and have been on the program ever sense then. i think that there on point, and have never had any issues with them. even with the toe straps, the first few years you had to take the padding out of them, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. but im glad to hear good things about the contacts, i think im going to ride the contacts this year, as to the forces, which i have been on..

  4. Anonymous
    September 04, 2008

    This review really makes me want to go out and buy a pair right now. those contacts look sick. Is 19% of baseplate contact less or more than average? What is the purpose?

  5. Damian
    September 04, 2008

    I believe the 19% contact has 2 purposes:

    1. True board flex. The bindings dont interfere with the flex of the board. I’m interested in seeing how this works out with my skate banana.
    2. lighter!

  6. Shayboarder
    September 04, 2008

    Yep Capita has that board back in the demo fleet…so no more pictures of me riding it.

    Damian’s right on the baseplate…I’ll compare when I get the contacts to my other bindings, but there’s definitely less contact to the board. The bindings are nice and light.

  7. Anonymous
    September 04, 2008

    hey shay are these light for a mens binding, or are they light compared to most womens bindings too?

  8. Shayboarder
    September 04, 2008

    Light for both…definitely noticeably lighter than my rome madisons. When I get the bindings I’ll weigh them against my Rome Madisons on a scale.

  9. Anonymous
    September 24, 2008

    Hey Shay, are the Contacts supposed to be the most freestyle oriented bindings in Union’s lineup? They sound like they’re the lightest. Is the highback metal or plastic?

  10. Shayboarder
    September 24, 2008

    I’m going to try to get on the forces to compare them to the contacts this year. They are a really light binding and the highback is more flexible than my rome madison highback. The contact highback is plastic, the heelcup is aluminum.

  11. Crispy
    October 18, 2008

    How is the padding on the Contacts? I’m looking to hit more jumps this upcoming season and wanted to know. Thanks!

  12. Shayboarder
    October 19, 2008

    The baseplate cover has good padding that matches the heel padding. Definitely helps absorb harder landings, I haven’t felt any chatter or vibrations through them yet.

  13. Anonymous
    November 04, 2008

    Hey nice review, im not sure if it should go with the contacts or the rome 390’s, i ride a good amount of park but i also ride groomers throughout the day, so i like to have decent response. what would you go with?

  14. Shayboarder
    November 04, 2008

    If you can just check them both out in person. The contact is a soft binding I won’t deny that and I’ve been riding my raidens more for the response. But the lightness of the contacts and super soft is fun to play with. Have you considered the forces?

  15. Anonymous
    November 07, 2008

    yeah i actually work at a shop but im torn between the 390’s and the contacts. we carry the forces too but i haven’t really considered them. the contacts are probably the lightest binding ive ever seen, but the highback flexes like crazy and seems like they would be good for park riding only. i rode the 390’s last year and i liked them alot, im not sure if i would want to go any softer. but ive heard good things about the contacts..

  16. Shayboarder
    November 07, 2008

    I’ll be able to ride the 390’s soon to compare soon. The contacts are light but very soft. I’d suggest if you like the 390’s and they work for you to stick with them until you can try the contacts on snow. Why change something you like until you can compare?

  17. Anonymous
    November 18, 2008

    I can’t wait for the review on the Forces. I am torn between Contacts and last years Forces. I am even considering last years Cadet DLXs because they have the straps off the Forces with the same flexy highback the Contact has.

  18. Shayboarder
    November 18, 2008

    Forces reviews are coming 🙂 Did an interview with George today from Union about differences.

    I was quite content with the forces I rode…for all mountain riding I’d rock them easily versus my contacts I pretty much keep to early season, pipe and what little freestyle I do…which i’m working on, gonna hit up more this year.

  19. Anonymous
    November 19, 2008

    I’ve been looking into getting Contacts. But I’ve heard from others that the straps on them aren’t to good. Could you elaborate on that some since you have ridden the straps that are on the forces too. To me it kinda looks like they took the straps off the DLXs from this year. It could be just because they are the flexier of the two and that is what the Contact is about.

  20. Shayboarder
    November 19, 2008

    So far I'm fine with the straps, they are softer but still a decent strap in terms of fitting my boots.

    Here's what George from Union had to say on the difference between the contact and force straps.

    "Toe straps are essentially the same. Ankle straps are way different though. The Force straps are stiffer, and have more padding. I always think of it like skateboard trucks. The contact is like riding loose trucks. Softer & more feel."

  21. Anonymous
    January 03, 2009

    i just weighed my 2008 390’s and 2008 force-mc’s, and the 390’s are 1.1 kg per binding, while the mc’s were 0.85 kg per binding… not lighter by much in terms of absolute weight, but it definitely makes a difference that i can feel when i bomb down the hill on choppy snow.

  22. Shayboarder
    January 04, 2009

    Thanks for the weights…what scale do you use? I’ve been thinking about picking up one just to weigh bindings and boards so people have definite numbers. I’m surprised more companies don’t do that.

  23. Anonymous
    January 25, 2009

    I’m between these or the flux stream sf’s from 2008, i love the design, but the contacts would match my board, i’m really stuck. anything to persuade me on one or the other?

  24. Shayboarder
    January 25, 2009

    Tough, I haven’t rode the streams so I can’t be a judge of both. contacts are super soft and I know flux’s are super comfortable. contacts are light and the flux’s I have rode are heavier. Guess depends what you are looking for. Would be sweet to get both and then whichever one you don’t like as much, sell it.

  25. Anonymous
    January 27, 2009

    I just bought a 08 burton custom and have not decided on bindings yet! I am looking at the Union Forces and the Burton P1.1, which would you go with?

  26. Shayboarder
    February 01, 2009

    Sweet on the new board! I currently own the Forces and am quite happy with them. I haven’t tried the 08-09 Burton P1’s so can’t give you a comparision against them. I’ll see if I can get on them to review them for you and give a comparision to help out. If you can get your hand on both of them in person to play with and see how both fit your boots, that would be a good first step. For me price is an issue and Forces are a good bang for the buck.

  27. September 10, 2009

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  28. Whistler
    January 07, 2011

    I bought the Union Force MCs here in London December 2009. Went riding in backcountry in Zerrmatt, Chamonix, St. Anton, Verbier. The orange screws sheared and I lost toe straps and had to hike out. The UK rep for these bindings said the screws were part of a ‘bad batch’ and gave me three new screws. The screws continued to snap and I spent a lot of time running around snowboard shops in the alps looking for replacement parts. Two weeks ago the baseplate broke while on holiday in Austria and I had to borrow a pair of rental bindings for the duration of the holiday. This company gives it a lot of plausible sounding chat about making the best bindings and really paying attention to issues. I have written to them and have received no reply. They either do not care or are so poorly managed they cannot generate a response. These bindings are dangerous given the high failure rate of the screws and this product should be recalled.